Imaginary Friendsincluding works by Polly Apfelbaum
Museum Group Exhibition
Curated ByPatrick Ronse and Martina Millà
Fundació Joan Miró
17 Mar – 11 Sept 2023
Contemporary art changes constantly as new artists appear on the scene and innovative languages are constructed, materials are diversified and fresh discourses are formulated. Imaginary Friends is an interactive exhibition that aims to provide insights into this changing art for visitors of every age, in particular the very young.
The artist and the artwork, as an imaginary friend, have to be capable of creating a space between the spectator and reality in which anything is possible, a space for play and discovery. Imaginary Friends will enable visitors to delve into the world of contemporary art in a pleasant, fun and accessible way. The exhibition is intended to accompany the spectator as they discover and become familiar with renowned artists and to encourage them to lose their fear of contemporary art.
The exhibition structure is based on nine installations, some of them classics and others newly created, distributed around the exhibition rooms of the Fundació Joan Miró and in other parts of the museum. Most of the installations are interactive and reflect topical issues linked to play and leisure, as well as other concerns, that the artists have addressed in their works.
The exhibits are by artists from different backgrounds and generations, among them Paola Pivi, Kasper Bosmans, Polly Apfelbaum, Meschac Gaba, Afra Eisma, Pipilotti Rist and Martin Creed, most of whom will be showing work for the first time in a museum in Spain.
(Fundació Joan Miró)
I hate to say I do not recall having imaginary friends, but I was surrounded by siblings and animals and of course I really loved my stuffed animals. They were essentially my imaginary friends. I remember making a house for them out of a cardboard refrigerator box. Maybe the refrigerator box was my first installation.”
– Polly Apfelbaum
A characteristic of Polly Apfelbaum’s practice is her hybrid aesthetic that blends the traditions of sculpture, painting, ceramics, textiles, design and installation art.
Since 1992, Apfelbaum has used the floor as a surface for presenting her ‘fallen paintings’, which are not hung on walls, the conventional space for artworks, but instead stretched out as rugs. She is interested in rugs as domestic objects, but also due to their importance to nomadic peoples: the home is where the rug is. Apfelbaum uses rugs to create (meeting) rooms where art can be experienced as if in a sacred place. As sacred as play itself, which very young children often engage in on the floor.
In her installation for Imaginary Friends, Apfelbaum takes as her starting point a book dating from 1963, The Potential of Woman, the proceedings of a symposium at which the aim was to study women’s liberation, while completely ignoring the approaches and demands of feminism in the 1960s. More than fifty years on, Apfelbaum has appropriated with irony the title of the book and its graphic image – featuring a flattened and stylised vision of a female figure – to illustrate the historical and contemporary aspects of equality.
Apfelbaum’s installation adapted for Imaginary Friends includes fourteen lithographs from Joan Miró’s Àlbum 13, held in the Fundació Joan Miró’s collection. She has chosen them because of the connection between the playful and at the same time serious imagery of the face found in both The Potential of Women and in Miró’s works.
Apfelbaum has placed a table for drawing on in the middle of the installation, the idea being that visitors will be able to complete her work with drawings.